Oprah Winfrey is a talk show host, a producer, and a philanthropist among many things. She is most known for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that she hosted for 25 years.
Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, where she lived in rural poverty. At the age of 6, Oprah moved to an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her teenage mother. Afterwards, at the age of 14, she was sent to live in Vernon in Nashville, Tennessee.
To learn more about Oprah Winfrey’s childhood and how she became America’s first black billionaire, keep reading.
Oprah’s Childhood Struggles
Oprah Winfrey had an extremely difficult and traumatic childhood. She was born to a teenage mother who left her to her maternal grandmother for several years.
At that time, Winfrey experienced extreme poverty and attended school wearing dresses made of potato sacks. Winfrey lived with her grandmother until the age of six, when she moved back in with her mother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
After the move, Winfrey became victim to both physical and sexual abuse. She was raped at the age of nine by her cousin, and later by a family friend and an uncle.
The sexual abuse continued for a few years. Winfrey even became pregnant at the age of 14, and gave birth to a baby boy after moving to Nashville, Tennessee, where she moved in with her father.
While living in Nashville, Tennessee, with her father and stepmother, Winfrey turned her life around, and did well at school. Winfrey even earned herself a scholarship to Tennessee State University where she would later study communications, but drop out at the age of 19 to pursue a career in the media.
The Road to Oprah’s Success
Oprah’s first experience in the media was working part-time at a local radio station where she was invited because of her smooth voice. Winfrey then moved to Baltimore, where she worked as a news reporter and co-anchor of the six o’clock news.
This co-anchor position at WJZ-TV did not work out as it brought too much negative attention, so Winfrey was moved to a morning slot. She was later given another talk show at that TV station, but Winfrey decided to send out an audition tape to WLS-TV in Chicago.
Winfrey was given a hosting gig at a morning talk show, “Chicago AM” in 1984. After turning the talk show from the least watched into the most watched, Oprah negotiated ownership and named the show “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.
The talk show was a huge success, and it ran from 1986 to 2011. At its peak year, the show made $300 million.
To see Oprah’s audition tape sent for the talk show, “Chicago AM”, click on the link below:
Oprah Winfrey is worth approximately $4 billion today. Aside from hosting the mega popular talk show, Winfrey invested heavily in real estate, the weight loss industry, and reinvested the money earned from “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.
Winfrey is a very active philanthropist. Besides being known for being extremely generous when hosting the talk show, she has been involved with various charities for decades.
Winfrey donated millions to different charities throughout the years, but mainly focused on the following three: The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation.
In the last few years, Oprah made some significant business moves. She signed a deal with Apple in 2018 to create original content, and will continue to collaborate with Weight Watchers until 2025, allowing her to purchase additional 3.3 million shares in the company.
In 2020, she went on a cross-country tour called “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus”. Intended to promote wellness and wellbeing, Oprah partnered up with Weight Watchers and announced the tour as a chance for everyone to join the interactive experience, workshops, and create an action plan for 2020.